Barrick Gold partners with Chinese company Zijin Mining at Porgera mine

TORONTO – Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) has signed a strategic partnership with Chinese mining company Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. which will take a stake in its Porgera Joint Venture gold mine in Papua New Guinea.

Under the deal, Zijin will acquire 50 per cent of Barrick (Niugini) Ltd., the company which owns 95 per cent of and manages the project, for US$298 million in cash.

In addition, Barrick and Zijin have signed a long-term agreement which outlines the intent of both companies to collaborate on future projects.

“Our partnership with Zijin is the first step in a long-term strategic relationship with one of China’s leading mining companies—a multi-faceted partnership that will provide significant opportunities to work together on an ongoing basis as we continue to create value for our respective owners,” Barrick chairman John Thornton said in a statement.

Barrick’s share of gold production from the Porgera mine in 2014 was 493,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of US$996 per ounce.

Production for 2015 is expected to be 500,000-550,000 ounces of gold at all-in sustaining costs between US$1,025 and US$1,125 per ounce.

Thornton’s deep connections in China were highlighted as a key asset for Barrick when he joined the gold miner.

“A twenty-first century mining company with global reach and the intention to become an industry leader must, by definition, have a distinctive relationship with China,” Thornton said.

Zijin called the partnership with Barrick an “excellent fit.”

“Our companies have complementary expertise and experience and share a common vision for creating long-term value for our owners,” Zijin chairman Chen Jinghe said.

Barrick has been looking to sell non-core assets as it streamlines its operations and cuts costs.

On Sunday, the company announced a deal to sell its Cowal mine in Australia to Evolution Mining for US$550 million in cash.

The gold miner said it would use the money from that deal to pay down debt.

The sale of Cowal is also expected to help reduce general and administrative costs as it closes its office in Perth, Australia.